Weekly Round Up: Bones, How to spot a fake expert, orca gangs, big men, and sewage

stories that caught our eye

Stand up for your beliefs Ever since its discovery more than 20 years ago the fossils of Sahelanthropus tchadensis, have been fought over by rival teams of scientists. How close were they to the hominin line? And now-could it stand upright? Whether it’s at seven million, three million or just a few thousand years ago, every hominid fossil is the potential cause of disputes which seem to generate far more heat than light. Frankly, we would welcome a lot more digging and a lot less publishing. Nature Briefings details the latest saga. Did this ancient hominin walk upright?

An ancient human relative, Sahelanthropus tchadensis, might have walked on two legs seven million years ago. S. tchadensis could be the earliest known member of the hominin lineage, the evolutionary branch that includes the common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees and ends with modern humans. The theory is based on a battered fossil leg bone that was discovered in Chad more than 20 years ago. But some scientists are not convinced that the femur’s traits prove the creature stood tall.Nature | 5 min read
Reference: Nature paper

Is this man really an expert? News controversies have been marred by each side dragging on some important-sounding bloke who claims to be an “expert.” Economics, science, health, climate change…think of another. Some no doubt, are experts. But not all, and it’s important to try to ask if someone really knows, or is just bluffing it. Fortunately Thora Tenbrink is here from the Conversation to guide us


They’re just playing Why is a boisterous bunch of young orcas bumping boats the Atlantic? Most experts think it’s just for fun: they’re big enough to sink these yachts if they really wanted to. Even so it must be terrifying when something goes bang on your hull in the middle of the night! A conservation success, but best sustained if we can manage the seas for people and animals, we think. Here’s the Times


A fascination with with strong men The American right’s weakness for burly macho dictators is nothing new, as this intriguing piece from The Atlantic shows. Just as Leftists idolised Stalin and Mao, so Rightists have done the same with an amazing collection of fad-heroes-some of them very, very queasy indeed. What is the psychological thread linking all this hero-worship, we wonder?


Local Protest, National Hope And finally… the inhabitants of England’s Sussex Coast have always been regarded as quiet, placid acceptors of the good fortune that life has bestowed on them. Until now, when appalled by the tonnes of sewage flooding into their previously limpid seas, they have formed angry protest groups to march and shout against water companies and the Government which has given those such an easy ride. And now this is national news No, this is not Anglocentric-if they can do it in Hastings, why can’t you in your country?


#killer whale #viktor orban #paleoanthropology #sewage #pollution

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